Giving Thanks

If it were the last evening of my life, and I were facing a terrible death, would I think of giving thanks? It’s more likely that I’d be a nervous wreck! If I were faced with thousands of hungry people, and all I had were five loaves and two fish, would I even take the time to be grateful? I’d probably just panic! Jesus gave thanks. That blows my mind. It’s a sign of his boundless trust in the Father. If you give thanks to the Father in a terribly difficult situation, you obviously trust him enormously. All Jesus had in his hands was something radically insufficient, but the loving gratitude of Jesus opens the gateway to abundance, because his gratitude enables the Father’s generosity to show itself. If you give thanks when everything around you is falling apart, that act of giving thanks helps you to hold things together, and it helps you to hold yourself together as well.

Excerpted from The Mindful Our Father  by Thomas J Casey SJ (pp.101-102)

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The Language of Feelings

In praying the examen, we reflect on these various feelings. Consolation and desolation are not rarefied spiritual states: they are feelings and moods that we experience all the time. We often push them out of our awareness as we go about the business of our day. In the examen we look at them carefully. Where has God been in our day? We find him in those times when we have felt happy, joyous, and at peace. We also find him in times of anxiety and sadness, because we need God at those times.

What we do and how we think are of great consequence. But first we ask how we feel. There, “in the depths of our affectivity,” we find the Holy Spirit powerfully moving us.

Excerpted from A Simple Life-Changing Prayer by Jim Manney (pp. 43-44)

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You Are Love Poured Out

Lord, it is good to chat, and I find myself looking forward to meeting you. Let me start by telling you my best thinking about you. I know the beautiful statement of St John, that ‘God is love’ (1 John 3:8; 16). But your love can’t be thought of as static. It is always being poured out, inexhaustibly and richly. You yourself use the term ‘poured out’ at the Last Supper, I notice. Often the Holy Spirit is described as being ‘poured out’ on everyone.

Excerpted from I Am Infinitely Loved: A Month of Meditations by Brian Grogan SJ (P.10)

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Transforming Failure

Mistakes are to be learned from and grown out of. They are opportunities for us to sheepishly, maybe, and humbly, definitively, turn back to God in search of the forgiveness or strength that will inevitably await us and help us to move on along a better path. One of the best lines in the New Testament dealing with failure comes in the story of the Prodigal Son, or the Forgiving Father as it is increasingly known. When the wayward son, who has really messed up, comes back to his father seeking forgiveness for his mistakes we read the following about the father’s reaction to the son: “He fell on his neck and kissed him.”

How wonderful to have a God who falls on our neck and kisses us when we mess up and ask for his forgiveness! And what better way to be his presence in the world than to do the same for others in our lives?

Excerpted from Deeper into The Mess: Praying Through Tough Times by Brendan McManus SJ and Jim Deeds (p.25)

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How Ignatius of Loyola can help us today

Ignatius gives us helpful, practical guidelines on how to interpret our moods so that we can live life to the full, making the most of the many gifts we have been given.  He encourages us to discover who we really are and what we really want from life. He wants us, in the words of the poet, Walt Whitman, to ‘weave the song of myself’.  Ignatius, also conscious of how much we receive from the hands of a loving God through the circumstances of life, gets us to consider the most appropriate ways to give back some of what we have been given by supporting our fellow travellers on life’s path, especially those weakened by the challenges of the journey.

Excerpted from Pathways to a Decision, with Ignatius of Loyola by Jim Maher SJ (p.8)

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Remember, you are loved…

At the heart of the Spiritual Exercises is the relationship with Jesus and the realisation that Jesus suffered and died for me personally. This insight changes everything: realising that you are loved and are even worth dying for is liberating and transformative. Sometimes it takes a big life event or moment of crisis to realise this central Christian insight, that there are limits to our own efforts or ego, and freedom consists in giving ourselves totally to this God of love.

Excerpted from Brothers in Arms by Brendan McManus SJ (p.71)

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Finding God in the everyday

St Ignatius said that God deals directly with us and is always trying to reach us, so our job is to recognise where God is present in our everyday lives. Even in the mess of things, in the dirt and muck of things, God is always there. That may be unexpected, but it is liberating. Our job is to spot where God is calling and learn to respond, helping us to transform the situations where we find ourselves. There is no point in making the same old prayers in the same old way if God is waiting for a creative response and looking to make something new of us. This is an adventure into the unknown where we can take some pointers from wise people who have gone before us, but it is also one where we have to trust our instincts and believe that God is offering us new possibilities.  Make your prayers real, heartfelt and based on your experience, and step out into the unknown. God is waiting.

Excerpted from Deeper into The Mess: Praying Through Tough Times by Brendan McManus SJ and Jim Deeds (p.

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That’s not what I had expected….

Inflated expectations and wanting to repeat previous experiences can become unhelpful attachments that trap us in the past and hinder accepting the new realities. Unexamined, expectations can become idols that dominate our thinking and take away our peace, necessitating a reality check to deal with them. Ignatian freedom is the opposite: freely accepting new conditions as gifts, without being limited by preconceptions or expectations, in order to find the newness of God in current situations.

Excerpted from Brothers in Arms  by Brendan McManus SJ (p.39)

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Visiting and Sharing at Christmas

We hardly realise what we take in, as we in our own way take steps to visit other people’s houses: those of friends and family, those of strangers and neighbours, those of fellow church-goers and maybe those of other faiths with whom we have come to share the main celebrations of our respective religions.  As we knock on the door, or ring the bell, with maybe a present or greeting card to hand, perhaps we could spare a thought for this meeting of Mary and Elizabeth: the absence of jealousy, the genuine joy of playing some part together in the mystery of God’s amazing plan, the chance to share with a smile and excitement and, yes, a blessing, with someone else whose life at that moment is crossing ours. We may not have much to give, but as we will all recall from the last verse of the Christmas carol, ‘In the bleak mid-winter’, it is our heart that is the greatest treasure, and that we can give to the Christ-child by sharing what we have with others.

Excerpted from Journeying to the Light: Daily Readings through Advent and Christmas by John Mann (p.67)

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Seeking a world of justice and peace

Humanity has a short memory and imagines that the unassailable of today will remain in the ascendancy forever, but history shows that the only true and everlasting rock is that of the Lord. The Christian, in seeking to understand the coming of the Messiah, is receiving images from a Hebrew faith community that held the vision of a world of justice and peace. Christ owned those images and we have received the legacy of the kingdom founded upon the principles that he showed and taught from the day of his birth, and to which we continue to be drawn.

Excerpted from Journeying to the Light: Daily Readings through Advent and Christmas by John Mann (p.14)

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